Make-A-Wish America President and CEO Richard Davis announced that the foundation will resume granting wishes involving large gatherings and air travel within the United States and federal territories for fully vaccinated children and their families beginning September 15.
Make-A-Wish previously suspended air travel and large gathering-involved wishes following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We’ve approached this responsibility with a focus and diligence for your family’s health and safety," Davis said in a video.
The decision was made in consultation with doctors and medical professionals throughout the National Medical Advisory Council and after monitoring public health organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to Davis, critically ill children and their families will need to be two weeks past completion of either a one-dose or a two-dose vaccine. While Make-a-Wish will not require proof of vaccination, parents will be required to sign a form confirming that they and their children are compliant with the policy.
Despite the announcement, none of the available COVID-19 vaccines are currently approved for children under the age of 12. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for use in individuals 12 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are approved for individuals 18 years and older.
Following criticism on social media of the foundation's decision excludes unvaccinated children, Make-A-Wish clarified in a statement to FOX Business that it will "not require anyone to get vaccinated to receive a wish."
"We understand that there are many families whose children aren't eligible for the vaccine yet, and we also know that there are families who aren’t choosing to get the vaccine. We respect everyone’s freedom of choice," a Make-A-Wish spokesperson said. "We will continue to grant wishes for all eligible children, including children who have not been vaccinated."
The spokesperson noted that it will work with unvaccinated families who do not meet the current criteria for air travel and large gatherings by either delaying the wish or choosing an alternative wish that involves car travel or a local event.
According to Make-A-Wish, over 6,500 wishes have been granted to wish children and families, both unvaccinated and vaccinated, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Any child fighting a critical illness is eligible for Make-A-Wish," the spokesperson continued. "While it does not reflect the majority of children we serve, we do occasionally serve children whose medical provider has determined that the child will not survive their illness. In time-sensitive situations involving an end-of-life diagnosis, a process is available to allow air travel or wishes involving large gatherings regardless of vaccination status."
Make-A-Wish said that it looks forward to "the day when medical experts advise that we can lift all restrictions."
"Above all, we remain committed to our vision of granting the wish of every eligible child," the foundation's statement concluded. "As we enter phase one of our reemergence plan, we thank you for your patience, your cooperation, your partnership, and your trust."
Over 179 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to date as of Sunday, with approximately 63% of individuals 12 years and older receiving at least one dose and 53.9% fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.